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I just finished reading the Sunday article by Harold McNeil on the fate of the old Niagara Falls High School building. While I will agree with the School Board that the money to keep the building heated could better be spent on the existing schools in the system, I can't help but feel some deep sorrow over the passing of another Niagara Falls landmark.

I grew up in the area that is now the parking lot for the Water Park. In fact, my entire neighborhood was taken for urban development in the '60s.

The last time I was in the city it still looked sad, and it's been over 35 years since that area was "renewed." I remember walking to my elementary school, which was located on Fifth Street between Walnut and Ferry avenues. It was another of those grand structures made of stone that were a product of the early 1900s.

It fell to the wrecking ball long ago. The lot remains vacant with the original stone steps -- all that is left of the school where I was taught the basics by teachers who really cared for their students.

It would be nice if we could bring back those old buildings that fell into disuse, but once the ball swings, it's gone forever. The Strand and the Cataract theaters were grand places in their day. The United Office Building, too. They're all gone and along with them everything that once was the city's character.

I live in Kansas City, where they are in the process of rejuvenating their old downtown. They have done everything in their power to save what are the roots of the city skyline, including the original train station that now houses Science City and a number of top of the line restaurants. It was saved with a special sales tax that the citizens voted in with an overwhelming majority.

One of these days there will be nothing left in Niagara Falls to go back to and recall our youth, except vacant lots.


Kansas City, Mo.

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